A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Women Pastors

Sometimes the news is bleak enough about religion that one gets surprised to find good news. But the Christian Reformed Church has just approved the ordination of women.

But the move to equality has just begun. The next step is working on issues from equal pay to access to positions in congregations. Then on to denominational leadership and input. But it's worth noting the significance of this event.

Growing up I never knew that for some this is a big step. Most of the pastors I knew and know are women. I actually had to be explained as a kid that not all churches are like this nor apparently agreed with Paul's claim in Galatians that all are one in Christ.

I'm not sure how this issue has played out in evangelical churches. While the Southern Baptists took a major step back and continue to think of new ways to not include women in leadership, apparently this not the case with pentecostal bodies who have for years relied on women leadership.

32 Comments:

At 2:37 AM , Blogger Virginia said...

When I was in middle school, my best friend came to church with me one day, and after the service she commented on how cool it was "when that woman got up and talked." It took me a minute to figure out what woman she was talking about. "Oh Ann? She's the preacher!" My friend (southern baptist) was shocked.

 
At 11:25 AM , Blogger Jonathan said...

There, while not a big time church topic, is pretty well debated topic. But what I think we get caught up in way to much is a simplistic view of men vs. women. There are women who believe that women should not serve as pastors and that the Bible places restrictions on the ministry of women - and there are men who believe that women can serve as preachers and that there are no restrictions on women in ministry.

This is not an issue of chauvinism, feminism, or discrimination. It is an issue of Biblical interpretation.

1 Timothy 2:11-12 proclaims, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” In the church, God assigns different roles to men and women. This is a result of the way mankind was created (1 Timothy 2:13) and the way in which sin entered the world (2 Timothy 2:14). God, through the Apostle Paul’s writing, restricts women from serving in roles of spiritual teaching authority over men. This precludes women from serving as pastors, which definitely includes preaching to, teaching, and having spiritual authority over men.

This in no way means that women or not equal to men, or not "one in Christ" as you stated Dwight. But it does mean that they have different roles.

The Bible is chock full of roles for men, women, children, leaders, and so on. We are all members of the body of Christ, but each comes with a different design. God has roles for men and women. And, according to the Bible, no women's roles are to preach.

 
At 11:54 AM , Blogger Dwight said...

Jonathan

I'm thinking of Romans, the last chapter where Paul thanks apostles, deacons of the church which include a number of women such as Lydia. Such women strike me as having some sort of spiritual authority, which Paul is expressing thanksgiving to.

Or the story of the empty tomb, where it is women who are the first to proclaim the risen Christ, even when the rest of the disciples fail to believe their story.

Or in Galatians, it's not just that we are one in Christ but that there is no male or female. I'm trying to figure how gender roles fit into Paul saying that these are not our identities, our participation in Christ is what our new identity is.

Then looking at the Old Testament I find women leaders, including religious leaders. I'm thinking of Miriam, the sister of Moses, who lead the people of Israel in praise of God.

So how do you make such passages connect up with the two Timothy passages?

Virginia

I remember an episcopal priest who told me that being a woman priest was ok for most parishioners, until she was pregnant. Then all of a sudden they must have been reminded that she was a woman.

 
At 1:08 PM , Blogger Jonathan said...

The women at the tomb finding out first has nothing to do with women pastoralship. Yes, they were the first there. Yes, they told others. But there is no connection to woman pastoralship whatsoever.

Lydia was Pauls friend, as was Priscilla. They were Christians. That doesn't necessarily defend the position of woman pastoralship.

It just illustrates that Paul still saw women in an equal light, despite the fact that many want to think that his comments (or the way people portray them) in Timothy are chauvenistic.

Miriam was certainly not a religious leader in any way, shape or form. She was Moses sister, but she never lead the people in a religious way. The only ones mentioned to do so during that time were Moses and Aaron.

God can raise anyone up to lead, absolutely. The perfect case would be Deborah in the Old Testament.

But God clearly has laid out the roles in family and in the church for men and women. It is very clear. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 explicitly that women were not to be in a position of authority or teaching in the church.

The list of qualities for a future church leader in Timothy never mentions a woman as well. All of the qualities and attributes were related to a man: how he kept his family, what kind of a person he was, etc.

 
At 1:53 PM , Blogger Dwight said...

Jonathan
Paul had titles for such women such as deacon. That is they had some office in the church which suggests religious authority.

How does spreading the word of the risen Christ not relate to the role of pastor? Think of what a pastor does, their function is.

Miriam does lead in song Exodus 15:20-21 and is called a prophetess. Her role in the Exodus story is not insignificant thus her title.

 
At 2:26 PM , Blogger Jonathan said...

"Paul had titles for such women such as deacon. That is they had some office in the church which suggests religious authority."

-If you could show me wear Paul titled women as a deacon, I would appreciate it.

"How does spreading the word of the risen Christ not relate to the role of pastor? Think of what a pastor does, their function is."

-As Christians, we ALL have the responsibility to "spread the word of the risen Christ." My evangelization of someone certainly does not make me a pastor. The role of pastoralship that we are speaking of is authority and teaching.

"Miriam does lead in song Exodus 15:20-21 and is called a prophetess. Her role in the Exodus story is not insignificant thus her title."

-Where is she titled a prophetess? I would appreciate that as well.

What is her role in the Exodus? Is it really significant? She is known for three things: saving moses, her mistake leading to leprosy, and her song.

Praising God is something any Christian would do. Again there is no connection.
...
On a side note, I probably won't be able to respond until tuesday or maybe Monday, because of work circumstances. Just don't expect a quick response

 
At 11:21 AM , Anonymous Eli said...

Jonathan,

At the risk of sounding like a heretic, perhaps Paul was concerned about the culture of the Holy Land in the 1st century. Even in the modern day Middle East, many women are treated as possessions, not equals with men and therefore would be ignored or minimized as preachers of the Gospel.

If we are to follow Paul's teachings, than all women should have their head's covered as well. 1 Corinthians 4-7 states “Every man who has {something} on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.”

Many Biblical scholars believe the shaven head was the sign of a prostitute, hence Paul’s admonition. However, in today’s culture, prostitutes don’t shave their heads because the culture has changed. Many men and women in our society realize the value of woman preachers. All Christians are the glory of Jesus Christ.

 
At 11:41 AM , Blogger Jonathan said...

I wanted to add in a comment from the previous discussion...we are "one in Christ" under faith. That is the context the chapter, as it was speaking about sin and salvation.

The point of this passage is that we are all saved by God's grace according to the promise of God and that it doesn't matter who you are, Jew, Greek, slave, free, male, or female. All are saved the same way, by grace. In that, there is neither male nor female.

This verse is not talking about church structure. It is talking about salvation "in Christ." It cannot be used to support women as pastors because that isn't what it is talking about.

Instead, to find out about church structure and leadership, you need to go to those passages that talk about it: 1 Timothy 2 and Titus 1.

And again, as I mentioned before, the description of a pastor in Titus and Timothy is specifically a man. Period.

I want to clarify something as well that I think many people miss on this issue. Male leadership does not belittle women. Does the wife's submission to the husband mean that she is less than the husband, less important, or belittled? Again, not at all. Not having a place of leadership in the church does not mean a woman is less of a person, less important to God, or inferior. All are equal before God whether it be Jew, Gentile, free, slave, male, or female. But in the church, God has set up an order the same way he set one up in the family. The chain of command is Jesus, the man, the wife, and the children. That's not to say the man is worth more than the woman, but that her role is different. If you don't like it, take it up with God, since he created the structure.

As for your comment, Eli, about the head coverings for women...you have mistaken the meaning behind that. Paul was speaking on modesty, as he did in 1 Timothy 2:9-13. It was immodest, in that culture, for a woman to have her hair uncovered (especially in a reverent place like a church).

God is a God of order. He has established a hierarchy in His creation that begins with Him, then goes to Jesus, man and woman in that order. In the society of the day, a woman going out in public with her hair uncovered was a demonstrating her rebellion against that hierarchy. It was a sign that she was available, and therefore an insult to her husband.

Paul reminded them that our worship services are regularly attended by angels and out of respect for them we should be careful to adhere to the established order while in worship.

Today the head covering for women is not customary, but we should still be careful to act in a manner that pleases the Lord and is acceptable in His sight, especially in worship. That is the true message of that passage.

For instance how many people routinely show up late for worship, or fail to demonstrate the proper reverence while there, or in other ways by action or appearance distract other worshipers? Would they look or act this way if they could see their angelic visitors, or even the Lord Himself in their midst?

That's the message of these verses: worship is not a time for musicians to show how talented they are or for worshipers to call attention to themselves by the way they act or look. It's a time to pay homage to the Lord, to focus on Him, and to express our gratitude to Him. It's not about us, it's about Jesus.

There are specific verses about pastoral leadership, and in each case a woman is not allowed because she is a woman. God has other plans for her, the way he designed her to be. It really doesn't matter if that is something you like or not, because that is the way God created us.

Unfortunately, our culture has completely lost the concept of roles as God intended, and now sees anything of the sort as wrong or even subjection.
...
And if you're wondering why I am posting after I said I wouldn't be able to, my work schedule was rescheduled to later this afternoon.

 
At 11:55 AM , Anonymous Eli said...

A website confirming Wiley Davis signing of a declaration of support for James Kopp, an abortion clinic bomber:
http://www.splcenter.org/intel/intelreport/article.jsp?aid=743

And one denying it:
http://twelvewitnesses.com/2007/05/03/art-rogers-wiley-drake-wes-kenney-james-kopp-abortion-murderer/

As for me, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

 
At 4:31 PM , Anonymous chris said...

Prsonally, being a Southern Baptist, I see women in more or as many leadership positions in the church. Some women are better equipped to preach than some men. But as far as I know, Southern Baptist allow and encourage women to teach and "preach" to women. That doesn't sound so restrictive to me. Unless you consider teacihng or preaching to women only as inferior, and the real sign of being a godly leader preaching to men.

 
At 9:56 PM , Anonymous Eli (an ex-Fundamentalist) said...

Jonathan,

In response to:
As for your comment, Eli, about the head coverings for women...you have mistaken the meaning behind that. Paul was speaking on modesty, as he did in 1 Timothy 2:9-13. It was immodest, in that culture, for a woman to have her hair uncovered (especially in a reverent place like a church)…
Today the head covering for women is not customary, but we should still be careful to act in a manner that pleases the Lord and is acceptable in His sight, especially in worship. That is the true message of that passage.

Thank you, Jonathan, that is exactly my point. Of course, I understand the verses spoke of modesty and not of the need of women to cover the head. The culture changed, woman can now cut their hair and they can speak in church. My point is that in the First Century A.D., women would not be welcome to speak in synagogues or churches and could not speak as pastors (or rabbis). The speaking referred to talking out loud during the rites. See below:

In response to:
1 Timothy 2:11-12 proclaims, “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”
In the church, God assigns different roles to men and women. This is a result of the way mankind was created (1 Timothy 2:13) and the way in which sin entered the world (2 Timothy 2:14). God, through the Apostle Paul’s writing, restricts women from serving in roles of spiritual teaching authority over men. This precludes women from serving as pastors, which definitely includes preaching to, teaching, and having spiritual authority over men.
The Bible is chock full of roles for men, women, children, leaders, and so on. We are all members of the body of Christ, but each comes with a different design. God has roles for men and women. And, according to the Bible, no women's roles are to preach.

In your first paragraph, please note Paul says “I do not permit”, not God does not permit. In this letter, Paul is addressing specific issues facing the church, and I do not agree with your assumption that this does not allow women to teach. Women and men sat in separate areas of the synagogues and churches, so women would ask their husband questions during service. This is apparent in 1 Corinthians 34 14-15 – “The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.” Do you believe women should be silent in church and not to speak under any circumstances?

As for the argument in your second and third paragraph, I believe this argument is diametrically opposed to what Jesus taught, that all are equal in God’s eyes. To say they are equal yet one group must be silent is not plausible. Scripture, taken in the correct context, must not contradict itself.
I think C. S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia, stated it best when he said, “It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers, will bring us to Him. We must not use the Bible as a sort of encyclopedia out of which texts can be taken for use as weapons.”

In response to:
"Paul had titles for such women such as deacon. That is they had some office in the church which suggests religious authority."

Women as deacons:
Romans 16:1-16 - 1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, so that you may welcome her in the Lord as is fitting for the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a benefactor of many and of myself as well. Greet Prisca and Aquila, who work with me in Christ Jesus, and who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.

Women instructing man:
Acts 18:24-27 - [Verse 24 in Original Greek] 24 Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.

Women as Prophets (and Prophets are sent to teach all people)
Acts 21:8-14 - [Verse 9 in Original Greek] On the next day we left and came to Caesarea, and entering the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, we stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who were prophetesses.
Acts 2 14 – 18 But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: `AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,' God says, `THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; EVEN ON MY BONDSLAVES, BOTH MEN AND WOMEN, I WILL IN THOSE DAYS POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT, AND THEY SHALL PROPHESY’.
1 Corinthians 12:4-31 – (Concerning the Use of Spiritual Gifts, including prophesy) Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God R463 who works all things in all persons.

In closing, I will introduce the concept of the tacit approval of slavery. The Scriptures never admonish Christians to free their slaves. The Bible does not specifically condemn the practice of slavery. It gives instructions on how slaves should be treated (Deuteronomy 15:12-15; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1), but does not outlaw the practice altogether.
This argument was espoused by ministers and leaders of the 19th Century:
"[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God...it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation...it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts." Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.
"There is not one verse in the Bible inhibiting slavery, but many regulating it. It is not then, we conclude, immoral." Rev. Alexander Campbell.
"The right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example." Rev. R. Furman, D.D., Baptist, of South Carolina.
Yet I doubt anyone using this blog would condone slavery. My point is the culture of the New Testament must be taken into consideration as we explore the harmony of the Scripture. A few verses should not establish dogma. I believe the real key is not to get bogged down in dogma, but let the freedom Christ brings speak to you as an individual (a personal relationship with God). Don’t deify the Bible, deify God. The only question we should ask one another is “do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God”. If we answer in the affirmative, we are sisters and brothers in Christ. Taking pieces of Scripture and debating them does nothing to edify and build up the Church.

 
At 9:25 AM , Blogger Jonathan said...

Eli-

It is obvious that you have no wish to consider the verses that speak specifically about who and what a pastor should be. It is also obvious that you are more than comfortable throwing aside verses that speak to the God-ordained roles of men and women in the church.

If you want to invoke Jesus, then look at how he explains the use of roles and equality.

Jesus stated in John 10:30 that He and the Father are one, denoting their equality, yet the scriptures show that Jesus is functionally subordinate to the Father. John 6:38 says, “For I came down from heaven not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.” The fact that Jesus was sent by the Father to carry out His will is an indicator of the Father’s authority over Him. I Corinth­ians 15:28 says “And when all things shall be subdued unto Him [Christ], then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him.” Like­wise, men and women are equal, but women are functionally subordinate to men.

Modesty and authority are two entirely different subjects, and you cannot mush the two together to prove your point. Culture or not, the Bible clearly states that women should not be pastors. Timothy and Titus, the books that speak to the requirements of a pastor, specifically state that it should be a man.

Also, I don't see how prophets and pastors have any connection. Spiritual gifts are spiritual gifts. But have the prophet gift (being able to tell right from wrong, and being comfortable saying so) doesn't all of sudden mean you are qualified to be a pastor.

Women can even have the gift of being a shepherd. Many, many women are given the spiritual gift of being a pastor-teacher (Eph. 4:11), and they are also given the responsibility and privilege of being a shepherd to other women. The OFFICE of pastor, however, is biblically limited to men. 1 Tim. 2:12 makes that very clear. But then, you enjoy ignoring that verse.

Also, think about these points:

There is a distinction between women in church leadership, and women in leadership OUTSIDE the church. The Bible never forbids a woman to assume political or civic leadership. It is only church hierarchy that is addressed in the scriptures.

Also, if a married woman is submissive to her husband in the home, as the Bible teaches, how would she take off that submissive hat in the church and be the spiritual leader of her husband? A wife is NEVER to be the spiritual leader of her husband; it's the other way around. Ephesians 5:23 says that the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. The wife's role is to lovingly, respectfully submit; the husband's role is to lovingly, sacrificially lead.

Paul invokes the creation order (Adam was formed first, then Eve...2 Tim 2:11-14). Then he reminds us that Eve was the one deceived, and became a sinner. The reason God doesn't want women in leadership over men isn't that we're second-class or less gifted than men; to the contrary, God says "woman is the glory of man" (1 Cor. 11:7)!

They're the best thing, the bright and shining, most beautiful thing about the human race! It's because they do need the protection that God gives us through men, and they need to maintain the creation order.

I do think it's interesting that God never forbids a man to LEARN FROM a woman; indeed, Apollos was discipled by both Priscilla and Aquila (you touched on this, no?), a married couple who were very instrumental in his spiritual growth and training. (See Acts 18.)

The prohibition against women teaching men needs to be seen in the context of the Ephesian church to whom Paul was writing, where apparently women teachers were bringing in false doctrine from the pagan culture into the church.

This is something where the Bible is explicit and obvious. There are exact rules against woman pastoralship. It's that simple. If you don't like it, then that's fine.

It goes back to Creation (Genesis 2), and the way that God created us. It goes back to whether you believe the Bible is to word of God or not (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

On both of those points we disagree, and in that sense I think we are going to just have to agree to disagree on this matter.

 
At 9:28 AM , Blogger The young fogey said...

Right now there happens to be a massive, civil, well-policed discussion of WO at the conservative low-church Anglican site Stand Firm.

 
At 10:40 AM , Blogger Dwight said...

Jonathan

What does a pastor do? I'm thinking of the verses Eli posted, as well as Miriam's role

-prophecy
-instruction
-shepherding
-proclamation of the good news

If we have examples of women doing all these things in the Bible one might come to the conclusion that women can and do perform every function a pastor does. So what is the difference between the "office" of a pastor and the functions of a pastor?

I'm not sure aware of any tasks required for being a pastor that only one gender is capable of doing well. My and many other's experience of women pastors have born that out. I won't even touch the issue of whether gender itself is a meaningful category to divide people up. I think in Galatians Paul at least recognizes it not as our fundamental identity.

But you have found a verse (and the assumption of gender in the description of Titus), which you would have overrule other passages of the Bible and the collective experience of much of society as well as large portions of the church. And in that, you're right, how we use scripture differently becomes very apparent.

 
At 11:41 AM , Blogger Jonathan said...

The verses in Titus and Timothy are not overuling other passages in the Bible because they are the only ones that speak to pastoralship at all.

This IS NOT ABOUT the ability of woman vs. a man's ability. I don't know how many times I have made that statement. It isn't about feminism or chauvenism, or about which gender is better. It's about the way God created us, and the way he has wanted us to act.

It wasn't my decision. It wasn't a christian leader's decision. It's God's plan. It is how he created us, and why we are DIFFERENT. You cannot squish men and women as the same, but you certainly can see them equally.

Equality is not relevant to being mirror images. It's about how they are seen in God's eyes. And just because God gives them different roles to live by does not mean in any way that he looks at one or the other as better or worse.

Dwight, there are lot's of people with spiritual gifts, and many of them have gifts that a pastor may use. But pastors are specific people in a leadership position used by God to teach the church. The Bible explicity states that THAT "OFFICE" should be held in the position of a man, becuase God has created man as the gender with authority.

Now, that DOES NOT MEAN that a man is BETTER than a woman. That is what the culture tells us. What it DOES mean is that the man's role is in the role of authority. That's ALL.

1 Timothy 3:1-7:
It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?); and not a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

THAT is what a preacher is, Dwight. There is no reference to women because women were not created for that role. God has better plans that better fits their purpose.

You can fight that if you want, but God ordained it.

 
At 11:52 AM , Blogger Jonathan said...

"But you have found a verse (and the assumption of gender in the description of Titus),"

Huh? There is no assumption of gender. Have you read the verse?

1 Timothy 3:1-7:
It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, uncontentious, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?); and not a new convert, lest he become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

There is no gender assumption there.

"which you would have overrule other passages of the Bible and the collective experience of much of society as well as large portions of the church."

Please. The role of men and women is mentioned numerous amounts of times throughout the Bible!

*Genesis 1,2:18-25
*Genesis 3:16
*1 Corinthians 11:3
*1 Cor. 11:8-9
*Ephesians 5:22-33
*Colossians 3:18-21
*1 Timothy 2:12-14
*1 Timothy 3:2-8
*Titus 1:5-7
...
Again, roles are good.

Jesus was given his authority by God the Father (Matt. 28:18). He was sent by God (John 6:38). He said the Father was greater than He (John 14:28).

Did this belittle Jesus? Of course not. Women are of great value in the church and need to be used more and more according to the gifts given them.

God made roles, like it or not. They are great things, unless we let the culture seep in and tell us they are bad.

 
At 12:07 PM , Blogger Dwight said...

Jonathan
Once you remove the functions of the pastor as a criteria for who can lead, and you remove gender differences then the question I ask is: in what way are women created such that they are not as well suited as a man is to lead a church? What features would you point to? It's certainly not because a man has a penis is it? There must be something more involved...what is it?

 
At 12:19 PM , Blogger Dwight said...

I think it's possible that God can use the culture to correct the church.

But I realized the assumption I'm operating under. It comes from Aristotle: if one wants to determine function or purpose of anything you can determine it by if it does it well. Since I know women pastors who execute their office with great skill and to great effect for God I assume that their purpose was to be a pastor. I don't know any other way to measure such a thing. Thus my question: what is at work for you that allows you to believe that women are not suited to this work?

 
At 12:50 PM , Blogger Jonathan said...

"in what way are women created such that they are not as well suited as a man is to lead a church? What features would you point to? It's certainly not because a man has a penis is it? There must be something more involved...what is it?"

It's pretty simple actually:

"For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression"
*1 Tim. 2:13-14

Simply, the Bible says so. I don't need a reason otherwise. The Bible is God's word, and I accept His other teachings. Why would I ignore this one?

This isn't a competition. It's not about a comparision. It's not about characteristics.

It's about obedience.

"But I realized the assumption I'm operating under. It comes from Aristotle"

OK...so you want me to take the words of Aristotle and hold them in the same regard as the Bible? It's not happening.

Why would God use the culture to contradict what the Bible says? The Bible clearly states woman shouldn't be pastors.
...
You are coming at this from the perspective of logic, or the cultural acceptance, or what have you. You are trying to have this subject make sense in your eyes, rather than simply accepting the Word of God.

I am trying to go back to the Bible, and see what it teaches in this area. And clearly, the Bible teaches woman should not be pastors. Plain and simple.

If your authority on the matter is Aristotle, then I think our discussion is incompatibly based.

 
At 2:49 PM , Anonymous Eli said...

Jonathan,

In comparing Romans 16:1 (I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae), in the original Greek with 1 Timothy 3:12 (Deacons must be husbands of one wife, good managers of their children and their own households), you will notice the same root word for deacon (Anglicized to diakonos). It was only some translators (who I believe wanted to degrade Phoebe to a “servant”), who differentiate the two.

The bottom line is I believe all scripture is inspired by God, you believe all Scripture is dictated by God. My beliefs come from 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” Where, in Scripture, do you find your beliefs? They certainly did not exist for the early Church and if you study Church History, you will find this is a new phenomenon specifically started in America.

My current religious affiliation often uses the phrase “Where the Bible speaks, we speak, where the Bible is silent, we are silent”. I find that concept to be very wise. The Bible does not expressly forbid the ordination of women, so who are we to forbid such a thing, especially when God has blessed so many of these ministries. It is easy to deify the Bible, which is exactly what you are doing, holding a set of manuscripts bound hundred of years after the deaths of their authors and saying this is the only way God speaks. Which translation of the Bible do we hold to be the absolute true, inerrant word of God? Even now, new translations are being written as we grasp more of an understanding of the language and culture of the times in which they were written. God actively participates in our understanding as we, as a species, gain the ability to commune and understand God’s precepts. For us to limit God to such a small box is to me, blasphemy.

 
At 2:55 PM , Blogger Dwight said...

Jonathan

The scriptures say "come, let us reason together". I assume that the best thought from the widest range of experiences from the testimony of scripture to other faith traditions to the church to current and past experience all play a role in formulating what we believe to be the best course of action.

If there is no reason outside of a verse, if the other voices in the Bible which was raised in the discussion and other thinkers and human experience and even reasoning is overturned for a single verse, I think and the bulk of the Christian tradition is with me on this, that we're working with a flawed model.

 
At 2:58 PM , Anonymous Eli said...

Amen, Dwight

 
At 3:09 PM , Anonymous Eli said...

By the way, Jonathan, it is not that I am ignoring the Bible verses you state, it is just that I completely disagree with your interpretation with what the Bible verses are saying. I see nowhere in the Bible that states women cannot be church leaders. Again, in context, Paul is speaking to a specific minister (Timothy) concerning things happening in his Church.

 
At 7:07 PM , Blogger Jonathan said...

It is obvious that this cannot be a sustaining conversation.

Neither of you, Dwight or Eli, see the Bible as the Word of God. You both believe that you can view it depending on your personal circumstances, rather than seeing it for what it is. You also believe that other experiences are equally as valid, if not more valid, than what the Bible says.

If that is your foundational position, then no profitable arguement can take place. From your position and mine, the other is standing on a falacy. So, in that sense, we can't have a good conversation on the subject.

I cannot show you the reasons why women should not be pastors, because you can find a peronal reason for disregarding all of the verses describing the roles of women. It's just not a conversation that will go anywhere.

In that, I agree to disagree.

 
At 11:16 PM , Blogger Virginia said...

Jonathan,

What do you think God or the Bible says about intersex people called to ministry?

Also, if God calls me to ordained ministry, as a woman, would you require me to ignore God in favor of your interpretation of scripture?

Finally, do you honestly believe you do fully unbiased interpretation of scripture while the others here are less faithful? If so, why are you here reading Dwight's blog at all? Is that not arrogance and pride? Why should we learn from you if you are unwilling to learn from us? Have you learned anything from your Christian siblings, some of them with far more life and faith experience than you, here?

 
At 6:04 AM , Blogger Jonathan said...

The "agree to disagree" I put out there for a reason, but in fairness I will answer Virginia's since she hasn't been here the whole time.

"What do you think God or the Bible says about intersex people called to ministry?"

Simple. They are in sin. Sexual orienation approved by God is only male and female. Whether you like that or not is up to you, but God clearly created human beings male and female...each with certain attributes and roles that God expressley created them for.

"Also, if God calls me to ordained ministry, as a woman, would you require me to ignore God in favor of your interpretation of scripture?"

There are women pastors in the world who love their congregations and have stated that they are called by God to be pastors. Of course, I cannot agree with this considering the previous analysis of the biblical position.

Instead, I believe they have usurped the position of men and gone against the norm of scriptural revelation. Additionally, those who state that they are called by God because of the great job they are doing and the gifting they have received are basing their theology upon experience and not scripture. Scripture is very clear in this matter.

The issue is simple: are they submitting to the word of God or are they making the word of God submit to their desires?

"Finally, do you honestly believe you do fully unbiased interpretation of scripture while the others here are less faithful? If so, why are you here reading Dwight's blog at all? Is that not arrogance and pride? Why should we learn from you if you are unwilling to learn from us? Have you learned anything from your Christian siblings, some of them with far more life and faith experience than you, here?"

I hold to my view of the Bible just as strongly as you hold to yours. Should I change my way of thinking because the majority on a liberally religious blog has a different opinion than me. It doesn't matter if you have more experience than I do. That's great, pat on the back. But sheer amount of opposition shouldn't and doesn't overweigh a belief...if it did, I would have a shaky faith.

I read the blog because I am intersted in the conversations, and in these viewpoints. I enjoy these conversations to better understand your points. I don't think that is arrogant or prideful, and I don't think there is any need to be defensive.

 
At 6:46 AM , Anonymous Eli said...

Jonathan,

In response to "It is obvious that this cannot be a sustaining conversation."
I don’t agree because as you and the others have conversations, more points are brought out to individuals who may be reading this blog but not responding. Perhaps it will help them decide which road to take, fundamentalism, liberalism, or somewhere in between.

In response to "Neither of you, Dwight or Eli, see the Bible as the Word of God. You both believe that you can view it depending on your personal circumstances, rather than seeing it for what it is. You also believe that other experiences are equally as valid, if not more valid, than what the Bible says."
I take offense at your continued assumption you know what I believe. Also, I find it somewhat difficult to believe you assume the version of the Bible you read and the doctrines you study are 100% true and everyone else is wrong. As I said before, I see the Bible as the inspired Word of God, not the dictated Word of God. We are arrogant if we think we currently understand God (and the Bible) as deeply and fully as we should. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12. I don't believe I can view it depending on my personal circumstance, but I do believe God reveals it based on our current situation and experience. I may read a verse and God reveals one truth to me and years later, read the same verse and God reveals a different, often complimentary truth. The 30+ years of experience of God’s revelation of the Bible to me is why I believe what I do today. I have grown in my understanding of God and the Christian walk. If my faith and beliefs are the same at 50 as they were at 20, than I have not grown as a Christian.

 
At 7:09 AM , Blogger Dwight said...

"attributes and roles that God expressly created them for."

Except that you can't seem to identify what those attributes are. In fact, you write "It's not about a comparison. It's not about characteristics"

So if there are no differences to be identified, no characteristics to be found that separate women and men, I don't see how you can come to the conclusion that women are created to have attributes that preclude them from ministry.

 
At 4:46 PM , Blogger Virginia said...

Jonathan,

Intersex people are people born with physical characteristics that do not mark them as male or female. You might know them as "hermaphrodites." They can have XX or XY or some mixture of chromosomes. They can have testes, ovaries, or both. They can have large (often called a penis), small (often called a clitoris), or medium sized phalluses (which are hard or impossible to classify). You say these people are, by their nature, in sin? Oftentimes their parents or communities will assign them a sex to keep people from having to have their views on sex and gender challenged and make life easier for the growing child, but according to you, the child is sinful because the child's biology doesn't fit into your interpretation of God's will?

If God's view is that everybody is male or female and has strictly defined roles based on this and scripture can never be read through anything but your own (Jonathan's) interpretive lens, then the very existence of intersexed individuals would have to be enough for me to write off this faith. As it is, because I understand this faith to be a living faith where scripture is invaluable but our (yes, yours too) understanding and interpretation of it is clouded by our limited life experiences, and the Holy Spirit is required to assist us in using scripture for loving purposes instead of persecutory purposes, I have not given up on this path God has called me to.

 
At 5:16 PM , Blogger Virginia said...

"I hold to my view of the Bible just as strongly as you hold to yours. Should I change my way of thinking because the majority on a liberally religious blog has a different opinion than me."

You claimed that you treat the Bible properly and we do not. You claimed that no profitable discussion can take place because of this. I'm the defensive one? I did not suggest that you should change your thinking based on a majority vote on a blog. I suggested that if you haven't learned anything at all from others in your discussions on this blog, then perhaps you are coming to this blog with a spirit that is not conducive to it. If you are unwilling to ever learn anything from us because we don't share your views and you have already decided you know all there is to know about these topics (or at least that you know better than us about all topics here), then I do find that a bit prideful. Personally, I have learned a lot from Dwight and others here, yes, even you. But when I respond to your comments here, I get the feeling that I will be ignored or that I will receive a defensive answer from an apologetics book instead of an open heart and listening ear (er... reading eye?) from a Christian brother.

 
At 4:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

women can pastor. God said that in the last days he would pour his spirit on all flesh. After all Anna preached in the book of Luke. Paul said that we were all one in christ jesus. Study your scripture and get it right. That verse in timothy is not a spirtual teaching because it spoke about adam and eve. they were husband and wife. not sheep and shepard. get it right.

 
At 1:25 PM , Blogger Rob said...

Forgive me if I repeat something that may have already been stated. I read the first 1/2 dozen posts and then skipped to the end.

I think when we look at this issue we have to start at the beginning. Back in the Garden of Eden, God created man first and then He created woman as man's help mate. As the Bible states in Gen 2:18 - Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." He then created woman out of man. This certainly does not mean that women are any less than men. We are all part of the body of Christ but we do have different roles in life while we're on Earth. God created man first therefore He gave men the leadership role in the family and the church. Women were created to submit to their husband's leadership and support him as well as bear children and raise the family.

The reason their is so much strife from women regarding submitting to men's leadership today is because of the curse God placed on women in the Garden. In Gen 3:16 God says to the woman, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you."

This last part of verse 16 is not referring to the woman having a sexual desire for her husband. Instead it refers to having a desire for her husband's leadership role. Hence the reason that we have so many women vying for leadership roles in business, government, the church and the home. Women today are not satisfied with their God given role as helpers and have a constant desire to usurp what God has ordained.

If one believes that the whole entire Bible is the true, inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of God then I fail to see how a woman can legitimately be a pastor. God has forbidden her to teach men and the qualifications for being a pastor, elder or deacon is to be the husband of one woman; he must be faithful to his wife. It seems to me that any woman who steps into the pulpit to teach or preach the the Word of God to a congregation violates the very Scriptures she is teaching.

Also, the term deacon has two meanings as used in Scripture. One as Servant and the other as a Title. In fact the word Deacon actually means servant. In most literal translations ie, the NKJV, NASB, and ESV as well as NIV, Romans 16:1 more properly reads, "I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae." Paul is not calling her a deacon as title but instead calls her a fellow servant of the Lord.

Sorry if this has been too long. I'll try to keep things shorter from now on.

God bless

Rob

 

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